XIX. Of the Law of God

1. God gave to Adam a Law of universal obedience, awritten in his Heart, and a particular precept of not eating the Fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him, and all his posterity to personal entire exact and perpetual bobedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and cthreatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

aGen. 1:27; Eccles. 7:29 bRom. 10:5 cGal. 3:10, 12

2. The same Law that was first written in the heart of man, acontinued to be a perfect rule of Righteousness after the fall; and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in bTen Commandments and written in two Tables; the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six our duty to man.

aRom. 2:14–15 bDeut. 10:4

3. Besides this Law commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel Ceremonial Laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, aprefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions bof moral duties, all which Ceremonial Laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only Law­giver who was furnished with power from the Father, for that end, cabrogated and taken away.

aHeb. 10:1; Col. 2:17 b1 Cor. 5:7 cCol. 2:14, 16–17; Eph. 2:14, 16

4. To them also he gave sundry judicial Laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general aequity only, being of moral use.

a1 Cor. 9:8–10

5. The moral Law doth for ever bind all, aas well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the bauthority of God the Creator; who gave it: Neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, cbut much strengthen this obligation.

aRom. 13:8–10; James 2:8, 10–12 bJames 2:10–11 cMatt. 5:17–19; Rom. 3:31

6. Although true Believers be not under the Law, as a Covenant of Works, ato be thereby Justified or condemned; yet it is of great use to them as well as to others: in that, as a Rule of Life, informing them of the Will of God, and their Duty, it directs and binds them, to walk accordingly; bdiscovering also the sinful pollutions of their Natures, Hearts and Lives; so as Examining themselves thereby, they may come to further Conviction of, Humiliation for, and Hatred against Sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his Obedience: It is likewise of use to the Regenerate to restrain their Corruptions, in that it forbids Sin; and the Threatenings of it serve to show what even their Sins deserve; and what afflictions in this Life they may expect for them, although freed from the Curse and unallayed Rigor thereof. The Promises of it likewise show them God’s approbation of Obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the Law as a Covenant of Works; so as man’s doing Good and refraining from Evil, because the Law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no Evidence of his being cunder the Law and not under Grace.

aRom. 6:14; Gal. 2:16; Rom. 8:1; Rom. 10:4 bRom. 3:20; Rom. 7:7–25 cRom. 6:12–14; 1 Pet. 3:8–13

7. Neither are the forementioned uses of the Law acontrary to the Grace of the Gospel; but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing band enabling the Will of man, to do that freely and cheer­ fully, which the will of God revealed in the Law, requireth to be done.

aGal. 3:21 bEzek. 36:27

Elders' Comments Regarding Article 19: Of the Law of God

Chapter 19: Of the Law of God

19.2, “The same law that was written in the heart of man…was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in Ten Commandments”

The wording suggests this included the fourth commandment, the command to observe the Sabbath Day. See comments at 22:7-8 regarding the Sabbath Day.

19:2-5, carried over from the WCF, refers to a 3-fold division (sometimes called Tripartite division) of the law given to Israel (part of the Mosaic, or Sinai Covenant) into ceremonial, judicial (“civic”), and moral law.

Although this theological construct remains helpful to an extent, it is important to keep in mind that Scripture itself does not divide Old Testament law into these categories (also note that some commands do not neatly fit into one category, e.g. Deut. 22:8, and there is a sense in which all law given by God is “moral”). Rather, the law given through Moses was delivered to Israel as one package.

Since Jesus brought fulfillment of what the Mosaic/Sinai Covenant anticipated, Christians in the New Covenant are no longer under the Old Covenant as a covenant (see 2nd Cor. 1:20, and the N.T. book of Hebrews). Christians do, however, remain under the Old Testament as Scripture; it continues to have authority, relevance and value (Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 3:16-17).  We also note that the New Testament, which speaks of the “Law of Christ” (I Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2), reiterates many Old Testament commands as binding for New Covenant believers (e.g. Rom. 13:8-10; Eph. 6:1-3). As the law of God reveals His righteous character, and how He would have those created in His image to live (His will of precept), it remains woven into the very fabric of creation. Thus we affirm that elements of the Mosaic law, rightly understood in the context of the New Covenant, continue to have application for believers, including as “a Rule of Life” (LBC 19:3; historically referred to as the “Third use of the law”).

19.6 and 20.1 “Covenant of works”: see comments 7.2 regarding “Covenant of grace”